Thursday morning it was reported that Gardner Minshew would start for the Eagles Saturday vs the Dallas Cowboys. A league MVP candidate, Jalen Hurts, will be sidelined with a sprained right shoulder that he sustained last Sunday vs the Chicago Bears.
With this news, many Dallas fans rejoiced as they chalked the division bout as an automatic win. Although Minshew is a backup quarterback, he is arguably the league’s best backup and could/should be the starter on several current NFL rosters.
Minshew Mania: the Ultimate Underdog Story
Even though Gardner Minshew finished his college career at WSU as a Heisman Trophy finalist under the late Mike Leach, Minshew has been maligned at the NFL level.
Minshew was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2019 draft with the 5th pick of the sixth round. He went on to supplant Nick Foles as the starter for Jacksonville and started 20 of 32 possible games.
During his time in Duval County, Minshew outperformed his draft position and expectations only for the Jags to tank for Lawrence in 2020. Nobody in their right mind is out here saying Gardner is a top-10 quarterback, but the guy can play ball and lead an NFL offense.
In 23 games with the Jaguars, Minshew looked the part of a starting NFL quarterback.
- 63% completion
- 240 yards per game
- 37 touchdowns
- 4.6 TD%
- 11 interceptions
- 1.4 INT%
- 93.1 passer rating
He did this while missing DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, and/or Dede Westbrook for 21 of his 23 games.
What can the Dallas Cowboys expect with Gardner Minshew at the helm on Christmas Eve?
Heading into Saturday’s matchup, the Dallas Cowboys should feel confident in their chances of beating their divisional rival but should not take Minshew and company lightly.
The Eagles’ offense boasts 6 Pro Bowl players, including a top-3 offensive line, a top-5 rushing attack, and two wide receivers with 900+ yards. This includes AJ Brown who is 5th in receiving yards and Miles Sanders who is 5th in rushing yards. To top it all off, Philadelphia also has a top-5 defense of its own.
The big question on everyone’s mind is “can Minshew do enough to beat the Dallas Cowboys and this Dan Quinn defense led by Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons?”
Minshew is a fiery, energetic leader on a high-profile team and heads into a deeply rooted rivalry this Saturday. I believe this benefits Minshew who thrives as the underdog as stated above who was a relatively unknown transfer from Northwest Mississippi Community College, who then signed with East Carolina, and eventually won Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year with Washington State University.
The WSU alumnus has been heavily critiqued for his average arm strength but throws with great awareness while placing the ball on his receivers. Although Minshew is no Jalen Hurts when it comes to mobility, he has enough athleticism to make plays on the move and will run when needed.
Looking back at the game on January 8th versus the Dallas Cowboys, Minshew was thrown to the wolves with Philly resting most of their starters. He completed 58% of his passes for 196 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception.
With Dallas desperately trying to figure out their Cornerback situation outside of Diggs, I fully expect to see Minshew more on par with his overall career stats and build upon his recent performance against the Cowboys this past January.
On top of Dallas’ recent struggles on defense, Minshew will have plenty to work with this Christmas Eve as he will be working with a fully healthy offensive unity playing their starters this time around.
Depending on which Dallas defensive unit shows up on Saturday, Minshew could be in for a long night or an early Christmas present with a career day.